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5 Live Epic Event Fiascos


By Kelly Leonard – Executive Director, Insights and Applied Improvisation

It’s amazing how many people take the producing of a live event for granted; as if bringing together hundreds or thousands of people can never result in anything less than a smooth, error-free occasion. I queried The Second City Works team for their favorite live event fiasco’s. Here are the 5 favorites:

The Event Where They Almost Killed James Earl Jones

A live awards event in Chicago featured a number of tragically bad choices, but the worst was when they called James Earl Jones to the stage to accept a lifetime achievement award. The celebrated actor had to climb a small set of stairs from the audience area to the stage and just as he was about to reach the lip of the stage, the house lights went down and a tribute film started playing. Jones had to stand on a small staircase in the dark with no railing to hold onto – clearly struggling not to fall for nearly ten minutes.

Balloons and BB Guns

Korean manufacturer LD held an event to promote one of its new smartphones. Someone in their marketing department had the brilliant idea to fill 100 helium balloons each with a voucher for a free phone inside. Once the balloons were released, there was mayhem as the audience pulled out knives, BB guns and other improvised weapons in an effort to pop the balloons. 20 people were hospitalized.

Steve Ballmer: Dancing Machine

Remember the launch of Microsoft Windows 95? This video says it all. Note to everyone: know your brand, know your voice and don’t try to be something you clearly are not.


Bad Tech at the Tech Event

The launch of the Apple Watch was a major event for the company in its post-Jobs era. But the live streaming that was to carry the launch party to tens of thousands of customers failed. Just weeks later, Virginia Rometty of IBM was delivering a much needed all hands on deck communication to a worldwide audience after 12 consecutive quarters of losses. Guess what: the live stream crashed.

The Legendary Paul Bundy

At The SiriusDecisions Summit a Vice President built his presentation around Paul Bundy. It took a few minutes, but the audience slowly began to realize that he actually meant Paul Bunyan – the giant lumberjack of American folklore. Within minutes, this Twitter account popped up and started trending.

Engaging and funny beats dry and boring,  I have passive listeners instead of active participants,  live events


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